Conophytum Eye Candy, Part 2 – Visit to Steve Hammer

Conophytum burgeri hybrid

Written byJen Greene

Animal lover, plant enthusiast, and addicted to the sunshine and warmth in San Diego.

November 23, 2022

These photos are of named species that I could identify, although I won’t claim any expertise in what’s what. 

I personally struggle to grow conophytums, or at least I have in years past. I think I tried too hard with them before; too much water in their off season, or not enough to keep their small roots established. They thrive with almost complete dryness in summer, and regular water when the nights get cold. 

This year, I’ve been in luck, as we started getting cooler nights in mid to late October and that was right as I was sowing the many seeds I was able to acquire from an enthusiast across the country. Out of about 120 species, so far only 14 have not germinated for me yet. 

With so many young plants expected, and easily half of them being Conophytums, I took plentiful photos of the species in Steve’s collection so I could have an idea of what it was I was growing! 

Conophytum angelicae

Above is Conophytum angelicae, of which I have several locales and even one batch of tetragonus. They are supposed to be quite difficult to grow. Mine have been slow to germinate, and looking at Steve’s compared to his other conos in his greenhouse, they were some of the last to be waking up. 

Conophytum bicarinatum
Conophytum bicarinatum

These were both Conophytum bicarinatum

conophytum auriflorum cross

One of the gorgeous hybrids Steve had made. This was an auriflorum cross. 

Conophytum bilobum

Beautiful little brilliant orange-red flower on a Conophytum bilobum. One of the most common species in cultivation, but not necessarily in Steve’s greenhouse. Or I just didn’t take that many photos of them. Either option is possible. 

conophytum caroli

These funky little white-blooming plants are Conophytum caroli. I had never heard of, or seen, these before encountering them in Steve’s collection. I don’t have any of these as seeds to grow, but I’ll be on the hunt! 

Conophytum burgeri

These are Conophytum burgeri and admittedly my favorite species. They look utterly ridiculous and I can’t get enough of the weird little dinosaur eggs. I have several pots of these seeds sprouted in my own greenhouse, but nothing so magnificently funky as these pots.

Conophytum burgeri hybrid
Conophytum hammeri

At left is a hybrid of burgeri, with a species I couldn’t make out. They look ridiculous and make me giggle every time I see the photo. Above is a pot of young Conophytum hammeri, which I am delighted to say I have several pots of seedlings in my greenhouse as well. 

Conophytum Don Juan

These conos had the most subtle of little fuzz to them – Conophytum “Don Juan”. 

Conophytum concavum
Conophytum concavum

Many of these Conophytum species are extremely rare in the wild, or worse, have been poached out of existence in their natural habitat. Species like the Conophytum concavum, a funky plant that’s relatively easy to grow from seed. Seed-grown conos are much more robust in the environment you germinate them in, meaning you’re more likely to have success growing them for years to come if you grow your own rare plants from seeds. 

Conophytum crateriforme

I read recently that the Conophytum crateriforme is completed poached out of its type locale. This is a massive shame, and theft against future generations. Most depressing is that the plants stolen from their environment are extremely likely to simply die slowly. They’ll be a prize in someone’s collection for a few months, maybe a year, and then most likely rot away. 

Look for seed grown plants, and ask about where the plants you are buying came from. 

conophytum cubicum fragile

Above is Conophytum cubicum fragile, with two colors of flower in one pot. 

At right is Conophytum cubicum

conophytum cubicum
conophytum ectypum

Above are a couple pots of Conophytum ectypum, one of the easier to grow species. I say this because I have a pot that I’ve managed to keep alive for several years now, in spite of knowing little to nothing about Conophytum care to start. I’ve had half my cluster melt and die, but it keeps coming back every winter. Excellent starter species for those just getting into Conophytums! 

Conophytum flavum
conophytum flavum

Two pots of Conophytum flavum. The pot at left was sown in 1989, and that extreme age is why you see the plants with such long necks. At right is a younger pot, with flowers ooking slightly more orange-hued than the older plant. It may even be a hybrid? 

conophytum elishae

A pot of young Conophytum elishae. Notice that most are splitting; when I had visited, Oakes and Steve said they’d just started watering everything nearly every week. The sudden influx of water after the long dry summer is probably the reason for the cracking. 

Unless you’re going to take your plants to a show as they first start to wake up, this is nothing to worry about. The plants will divide and produce new bodies that will be pristine and perfect. 

Conophytum ernstii cerebellum

These are Conophytum ernstii ssp cerebellum, and the angular edges to the leaf bodies is highly attractive. 

Conophytum ernstii

I believe this is a hybrid of Conophytum ernstii with another species; it looks hardly related to the subspecies at right! 

I’ll wrap up this post here to save on bandwidth; I took hundreds of photos and these are the best ones! One more post of Conophytums to come, and next week, check back for the other mesemb species. The non-lithops or conophytums were my favorites, and are highly underrated. 

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